Another film based on John’s gospel!?

Another film based on John’s gospel!? June 24, 2006

This is interesting. A guy named Ronald just posted a comment at an earlier blog post here, indicating that Bruce Marchiano, who played Jesus in the Visual Bible’s film versions of Matthew and Acts in the mid-1990s (my reviews), is now planning to reprise the role — in a self-produced version of John!

Click here for the new film’s website, which includes a video greeting, a letter of endorsement from the folks who own the New International Version of the Bible, and a method for making financial contributions to the project. And click here for Ronald’s blog on the making of this film-to-be.

This is a rather intriguing development, since the “Visual Bible” brand has changed hands several times since Marchiano was involved way back when, and one set of owners already produced a widely appreciated film called The Gospel of John (2003; my review), shortly before Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) came out — and many critics thought it was rather good by comparison. That film used the Good News Bible, though.

It also had a budget of between $10 million and $15 million, whereas Marchiano is hoping he can raise $25 million — roughly the budget of Mel Gibson’s movie — by encouraging “250,000 believers” to donate $100 each to his project. Could be interesting to see if the film can actually find that many sponsors.

FWIW, I also can’t help noting that, despite Marchiano’s claims to want to do an exact word-for-word adaptation, “entirely unaltered by any human scriptwriter”, the website’s “film synopsis” states:

Decades have passed since Jesus walked the land of first century Israel. The humble home of the aging Apostle John is crowded with “seekers” hungry of heart. As our screen swells with heavenly images of the time before creation “Old John” begins to share Jesus . . .

For the next twenty-one chapters of Spirit-inspired Scripture, leaping back and forth across time from Old John’s evangelical sharing to his younger days at Jesus’ side, , the Gospel unfolds in all of its passion and power, revealing its “Center” in unquestionable magnificence and intimacy: The Person of Jesus, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah, and His promise of salvation!

Sounds to me like a “human scriptwriter” is going a bit beyond the actual text and putting the gospel within some sort of extra-biblical context, there. I wonder what the film will do with that interesting bit at the end of John’s gospel where the author(s) and/or redactor(s) waver between “I” and “we” language.

JUN 26 UPDATE: Matt Page makes a fascinating point, at his Bible Films Blog, about Marchiano’s age and the possible age of Jesus according to some Johannine scholars (based on John 8:57).

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  • Yes, I heard about Marchiano’s aspirations and wondered about that too, since GoJ has already been done word for word like Matthew and Acts, and well done, I might add.

    So what happened to doing Mark and Luke?

  • Anonymous

    I heard that they wanted to do Mark and Luke, but that they don’t have the funds now.

  • It’s hard to believe another Gospel of John film is planned. In my opinion, The Gospel of John film from 2003 with Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus is the BEST film I have ever seen on the subject. Directed by Philip Saville and narrated by Christopher Plummer, this film is outstanding! Henry Ian Cusick was fantastic in the role of Jesus. I was surprised that I had never heard of Saville’s film until recently, and now I have told everyone I know about this powerful film. There is even a Yahoo group on this film. I suppose there can’t be too many films on this subject, so I pray that Mr. Marchiano will get the support he needs to produce the fim. Meanwhile, watch The Gospel of John directed by Mr. Saville. Everything from the directing, music, acting, photography, set design and makeup was top notch.

  • Anonymous

    I hope anyone who hears of this project will sincerely and seriously go to the websites..find Bruce on Facebook and hear his heart for putting the Gospel of John in a modern film format into the hands of churches world wide.. he isn't even planning a "silverscreen" release..

  • In my opinion, Philip Saville's Gospel of John is the best film ever produced about the life of Christ. Check out my blog on The Gospel of John film at In my opinion, we don't need another Gospel of John film.